Christian cultural heritage has a universal value for people and societies. Across Europe there are hundreds of thousands churches, the continent’s biggest living museum of architecture, history and faith, what we should preserve as our cultural heritage and source of our identity.
As 2018 is the European Year of Cultural Heritage, the EPP Group Working Group on Intercultural and Interreligious Dialogue held a seminar on the importance of Europe protecting Christian cultural heritage on 6 March in the European Parliament. MEP György Hölvényi and MEP Jan Olbrycht, the Co-Chairs of the Working Group hosted the meeting with a group of MEPs working across different foreign affairs fields and representatives of the Orthodox Churches.
Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium on behalf of Committee of Representatives of the Orthodox Churches to the European Union (CROCEU) highlighted the historical role of the Orthodox heritage in Europe.Orthodox Church provide an added value to the topic of the cultural heritage and they intention is to continue this cooperation with the EPP Group.
MEP György Hölvényi emphasised that building ties with the Orthodox Churches and Eastern Christianity remained a permanent item on the EPP Group agenda in the past two decades. This interreligious encounters showed a potential for peacebuilding and better understanding in many parts of Europe. MEP Jan Olbrycht pointed out the importance of the religious symbols, which are not neutral, but very important for the cultures. Demolition of these symbols mean to destroy a culture, an identity. As Christian democrats our responsibility is to keep these symbols, this religious heritage alive.
As MEP Cristian Dan Preda underlined the religious heritage is an unavoidable part that binds our societies together, that defines who we are and helps us build our Europe and the future of our societies. MEP Svetoslav Hristov Malinov highlighted the issue that some believe the EU enlargement should stop where Orthodox Christianity starts, because they think Orthodox Christianity is not compatible with the European culture and values. MEP Marijana Petir said that rediscovering Christian routes and heritage can save the cultural life in Europe and Christian heritage can help us to shape a prosperous future.
For the first time, in 2015, the European Parliament adopted a report on an integrated approach to cultural heritage for Europe. The document acknowledged that religious heritage constitutes an intangible part of European historical religious cultural and it must be preserved for its cultural value. As the leading political group which promotes interreligious understanding through regular cooperation with Churches, the EPP Group continues to promote the dialogue on the importance cultural and religious heritage.